For the first time in my life I forgot how old I was. Was I 33 or 34? I did the maths and confirmed with relief I was still only 33. But 33 still meant I was nearer to my mid 30s than the “just turned 30s” of my earlier years. What did it matter the truth was I was getting older, as are we all.
However after a weekend away with my husband last week I felt a clear shift in my partying habits has finally occurred. For years I was the girl who didn’t know when the party was finished, but the party did finish when I become a mother and I realised with horror that hangovers are even more gruesome with 3 young children to take care of.
This weekend I realised a few things; how different nights out are once you become a parent/hit your 30’s, how old I have realised I am becoming and finally that I don’t actually care anymore! I won’t lie it has taken me a while to adjust and adapt to life socialising as a parent but in this post I will be exploring a few main signs that will signal you are in fact entering the grown up stage of your socialising.
Before children, preparations for a night out included perhaps a group text to arrange where we were going and where the evenings pre drinking would commence. Preparations for an evening out as a parent can start as long as 6 months before hand. My husband and I had scheduled this particular evening away with much planning prior. Ensuring that the date didn’t clash with any of the children’s own social events, the baby sitters (my parents) regular weekends away and social lives and of course our own schedules of work and appointments. Therefore in January after much deliberating we came up with the date of May 17th which suited everyone.
I have come to the conclusion that there are no inbetween shops for women of my age. I wandered into TopShop only to feel instantly old and self conscious. Was this what girls wore these days I wondered? Thoughts such as “my daughter won’t be wearing clothes like that to go out” crossed my mind and I knew then I was probably too old for Top Shop “going out outfits.” Nonetheless I preserved searching through the rails and choosing a few items to try on in the changing room. Picking items which I felt would be more appropriate for a mother in her 30s I tried them on in disdain. I chose something I half liked and endeavoured to buy it and be confident with my choice. As I exited the changing room I noted a young girl of 18 entering with the exact same outfit I had in my hands and don’t know who was more horrified. Picturing bumping into other young girls wearing the same outfit as me on a night out, me 20 years older than them made me slightly nauseous and so I returned it in the pursuit of something else! But where else is there to shop? Too young for Wallis yet too old for Top Shop! Thankfully my trusty safe haven H & M provided an outfit I could feel confident with after having to endure another round of super quick changing as the Boss Baby ripped open the changing room curtain, exposing me to any other shoppers.
Have you ever read your children the Jill Murphy books with the family of elephants. I have never related to a book more than Jill Murphy’s “All in one Piece”the book depicts Mr and Mrs Large getting ready for a night out and sums up the experience perfectly. Long gone are the days of a relaxing bath before a night out. Bathing with an audience these days, be it one of my children taking a well timed number 2 (seriously every time I bath, one of my children needs to empty their bowels) or the looming, judgemental eyes of the Barbie assembly, casting their judgemental gazes my way. After which I have to leave my outfit until the cab is waiting on the drive to put on at lightening speed, rushing out the door, blowing kisses to the kids, so that my outfit doesn’t become soiled with dog hair, bodily fluids or any type of sticky substance my toddler may have smeared himself in this time.
On our recent trip to London I was excited to be getting ready at my mums house which meant a peaceful preparation time. Alas how wrong could I be, as when I pulled up at my parent’s house I realised the Boss Baby had managed to retrieve my outfit from my overnight bag, along with a purple felt tip pen, which I will never understand where it came from and design his own pattern on my new brand new jumpsuit.
Proudly exclaiming that I was now in fact “out ouut” on my social media I was left torn between a series of different options. Checking into the hotel I glanced at the clock and realised it was only 4.30pm if I started drinking now would I be vomiting by 8? Did we go for dinner? Hot food that I didn’t have to cook seemed appealing but surely we were here to party not sit eating meals like old people! The Irishman had packed a certain pair of boots because “they’d be comfortable for a walk if we went on one” planning walks, eating hot food and not vomiting after too much alcohol were all seeming to be much more appealing over getting hammered and vomiting into my handbag and having to deal with 3 over indulged children when I picked them up from my parents. Therefore we did go for a meal and then to a pub where of course I drank alcohol(quite a lot of be precise) but also enjoyed having a long awaited, undisturbed chat with my husband without having to split up a fight, clean up a puddle of urine or have the hysterical, accompanying soundtrack of Blippi in the background.
As last orders rang we were faced with the question of going onto a bar or back to the hotel although it was only ten to 12. The inner raver was screaming at me to go for it, crawl home at 6 am and embrace the night away. But was that embracing it? All I could think about was the amazing hotel bed that lay waiting for me. After both feigning excuses as to why perhaps going on to a bar would be rubbish anyway we raced back to the hotel room only to crash out for a full undisturbed nights sleep!
The Little Things
One thing I did notice and if you look closely you can also notice this too is the unmistakable glow free parents have on a night out. I was excited to get on the underground! Getting on a train and grinning like a Cheshire cat because I didn’t have to clamber on board with a pram loaded with my crazy children and the responsibility that comes with travelling with them. Likewise I could use the escalator at London Liverpool Street, singular public toilets and just be able to sit in a pub. I have no doubt, that at least one person looked at me that night and thought I was either high or weird. Why was I inanely grinning riding an escalator? Excitedly washing my hands in the public toilets knowing I could use the hand dryer without freaking my children out with its noise. All these little things made the difference! Likewise a handbag without a pack of baby wipes in them or a spare dummy, was a treat, although there was the odd raisin and piece of lego from the last wedding I attended with the children as a reminder of my parental responsibilities.
October 2018 I experienced my last hangover. Mistakingly thinking I could still drink as much as I did in my hey-day I spent the evening downstairs on the bathroom floor whilst my husband tended to the children doing the night shift. At 5am they came down stairs excitedly to see their usually vibrant mother and instead found a greying gargoyle who retched each time she attempted to pour cheerios in a bowl. Having to summon my husband back out of bed he had to assist with all other morning duties as the children gathered round to observe the broken human that was once their mother. Once my husband left for work I dragged myself and children on our usual Saturday routines and worried I wouldn’t make it to the end of the day. Finally after all slept that evening I joined them at 7 pm. After that day I vowed never to have a hangover again. Admitedly a promise I may not be able to keep but one I intend to for as long as possible. Hangovers as a parent will trump any other hangover because you actually have to participate in life and can no longer lay and wallow in your own self pity and vomit. Therefore until my children are old enough to nip to the shop and retrieve my hangover cures (cherry 7 up and salt and vinegar crisps) the hangovers will be avoided at all costs!
In conclusion I feel that I have reached a turning point in my evenings out. I have finally accepted I can have a good night out without pickling my liver in vodka. I retrieved my children the next day feeling stronger due to an evening of reflection on different strategies we could adopt to tame our feral brood, because let’s face it inevitably on a night out your children are still going to be the number one conversation. Strapping them into the car my husband and I headed back home to the countryside content until approximately 3 minutes in, when they exploded into a chorus of screeches and chaos that our road trips bestow on us. Cranking up the radio to full blast to drown out the sounds of murder coming from my squabbling elder two, the Irishman and I exchanged a solidarity glance before subconsciously plotting our next escape.